During pregnancy, your body will change to make space for the little one developing and growing inside of you. These changes may bring you some pregnancy pains and cause some discomfort. Pregnancy pains usually come out as some abdominal pain or cramping, which is normal.
Yes, it is normal, but it can be stressful from time to time. Main reasons for the pregnancy pains are constant shift of your organs, extension in your uterus and your stretching ligaments. It is pretty rare to have serious pregnancy pain, which may require applying your doctor.
So, when is the good time to stay calm, to consult a specialist, to call the doctor or to try symptom soothers? We will be talking about these below. Let’s start!
The reasons for usual and harmless pregnancy pains
You do not need to be worried in every other when you have pain, as there are various harmless pains during pregnancy. Harmless pregnancy pains are occasional mild cramps throughout pregnancy without any other symptoms. Cramping, gas and bloating, constipation, round ligament are common causes of pregnancy pains.
Below, you will see the reasons for them and basic ways to deal with them.
Cramping as one of the commonest pregnancy pain occurs due to uterus expanding. If you suffer from cramping, try to change your position, have a warm bath, do exercise, put warm towel on your stomach and drink plenty of fluids. Do not panic if it is not severe, persistent or accompanied with other symptoms that we will mention in detail later in the post.
Also, we have to tell you that your cramping should not be in the upper abdomen. Listen to your body: if there is pain in the upper abdomen, it may mean a problem. However, cramping during orgasm is totally and perfectly normal. Do not feel bad for about your own desires and attitudes.
Gas and bloating
Gas and bloating occur frequently during pregnancy as a result of increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that causes the muscle throughout your body to relax. Also, stomach gas mostly results from swallowing air and is typically released by burping. On the other hand, the gas that causes flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine break down food that was incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine.
It is mostly not possible to get rid of the gas during pregnancy; however, to lessen pregnancy pain you can keep certain foods away from your plate. Certain carbohydrates are the main culprits of flatulence. Protein and fats produce little gas, although fats can give you a sense of bloating and gassiness as they slow down digestion.
Some foods that cause gas include:
- Beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus,
- Fructose occurs naturally in certain foods, specifically leeks, onions, artichokes, dried fruit, canned tomatoes, ketchup, pears, apples, honey, wheat, and fruit juice,
- Certain starches such as wheat, corn, and potatoes,
- Some fiber-rich foods such as oat bran, beans, peas, and many kinds of fruit,
- Dairy products, especially people who are lactose intolerant,
- High-fat and fried foods.
Some of these foods are highly healthy foods, so you can try to regulate your diet rather than taking them out of your diet.
Constipation is among the pregnancy pains that affect almost half of all women during pregnancy. Also, your uterus is growing and putting pressure on your rectum. This results in constipation along with hormones slowing down your digestion.
Anxiety, minimal physical exercise, and a low fiber diet cause constipation. So we advise you not to miss the tips for a healthy pregnancy to minimalize the pregnancy pains. Here are three basic advises:
- Exercise regularly. Walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike, and yoga can all ease constipation and leave you feeling more fit and healthy.
- Listen to your body. Your bowels are most likely to be active after meals, so make time to use the bathroom after you eat if you need to. Don’t put off going to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
- Try another prenatal vitamin. If your prenatal multivitamin contains a large dose of iron (and you’re not anemic), ask your healthcare provider about switching to a supplement with less iron.
Round ligament pains
You may feel round ligament pains during second trimester as it is stretching to support the uterus, which begins to stretch and thicken to accommodate your uterus’ growing size. Round ligament connects the front portion of the uterus to the groin. Movements such as quick changes in positions, laughing or coughing can cause pregnancy pain as they make the muscles contract quickly.
So, trying to change your position smoothly is the best thing you can do to prevent round ligament pains. Also there are some exercises to alleviate pregnancy pains of round ligament. One of them is by placing your hands and knees on the floor, lowering your head to the floor, and keeping your bottom in the air.
What do harmful pregnancy pains mean?
As we have already mentioned before, pregnancy pains are normal to a certain extend. On the other hand, these pains may try to make you realize some problems to be solved. Let’s have look at such pains and find out what are possible scenarios in case when you have very much pain.
Two most probable scenarios in case of constant and severe pain are ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. If your excessive pain is localized on one side, this may indicate ectopic pregnancy, which requires urgent medical intervention. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus, typically in one of the fallopian tubes.
An ectopic pregnancy happens in 1 out of 50 pregnancies. It can be caused by an infection or inflammation of the fallopian tube, scar tissue from a previous infection or a surgical procedure on the tube, previous surgery in the pelvic area or on the tubes, or abnormal growth or a birth defect. Common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy pains are:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain or tenderness,
- Vaginal spotting and bleeding,
- Continual pain getting worse during physical activity,
- Pain in your shoulder.
Do not think before you call your doctor if you are experiencing at least one of these symptoms.
If you are suffering from sharp pain from cramping, this may be the sign of a pending miscarriage. This is why it is important to know the difference between harmless and harmful pregnancy pains.
Miscarriage can be defined as a pregnancy that ends on its own, within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. There are various reasons for miscarriage including hormonal problems, infections, malnutrition, old maternal age, maternal trauma etc. Miscarriage causes mild to severe back pain. If you feel pains worse than normal menstrual cramps, visit your doctor immediately.
If you start having regular contractions that cause your cervix to begin to open before you reach 37 weeks of pregnancy, you are probably in preterm labor, which is also known as premature labor. Babies delivered before 37 weeks are considered premature and they need special healthcare.
You are supposed to call your doctor if you have excessive and constant low back pain, feel more pressure in the pelvic area, see more vaginal discharge that usual etc. These symptoms can be hard to evaluate for you, as they are common during pregnancy. But it is better to visit a doctor even if it is a false alarm.
A placental abruption is when the placenta separates from your uterus before planned or expected birth. Your placenta is the source of oxygen and nutrients for your baby. It usually implants high on the uterine wall and doesn’t detach until after your baby is born. So, this is very serious because the condition can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients, and cause severe bleeding that can be dangerous to you both.
You can have some vaginal bleeding, ranging from a small amount to an obvious and sudden gush. Sometimes, though, the blood stays in the uterus behind the placenta, so you might not see any bleeding at all. So, you are supposed to visit your doctor immediately in case of severe and unusual pains.
When to be worried about pregnancy pains?
Pregnancy pains are both common and also harmless while your body is making space for and feeding the baby. They are mostly not a sign of serious problems and do not require you to be worried. However, if your pregnancy pains don’t sooth after having rest for a while, you have better call your doctor.
There are some cases when you should see your doctor without waiting long such as vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge, chills or fever, lightheadedness, pain or discomfort while urinating, and nausea and vomiting. These cases especially when occurred with pregnancy pains may be symptoms of serious problem.
During pregnancy, cramping with pain can be harmful if it is severe and persistent. There are some signs that tell you to watch out for some kinds of pregnancy pains. Even though sharp pains are possible in normal pregnancy period, they can be the result of a complication. Here are the three points telling you to go to doctor:
Pain with other problems
Problems such as vomiting, fever, chills, heavy bleeding/blood flow, or change in vaginal discharge can be dangerous when accompanied with pain. Cramping with vaginal bleeding particularly matters in early pregnancy as a probable sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage as we have written earlier in this post. They are cases requiring immediate healthcare.
Continual sharp pains
If the sharp pain is continual after resting or adjusting as round ligament pain shouldn’t last more than a few minutes. You can try breathing or physical exercises to alleviate the pain. Yet, a continual sharp pain lasting for around 5 to 10 minutes requires applying a doctor.
Limit in movements
Pain making it difficult to breath, walk or speak. So, do not wait too long to call your doctor if the pain makes it difficult to keep doing your basic movements. Pregnancy pains may be warning you to take care of yourself and the baby.
Final words on pregnancy pains
Pregnancy pains are partly expected while your body is developing a baby. It is enlarging to make space for the baby in your uterus, your hormones are changing to keep the baby safe and healthy, your organs are shifting to find a better place for them to make you safe and healthy. So, you do not need to worry in every other case of pregnancy pains; however, they should not last very long and be to severe to prevent you from moving or breathing constantly.
If have read our post in detail, you are now well-informed about harmless and harmful pains. If you are interested in getting more educated in pregnancy with correct and helpful information? Then, you can join my online courses that are combining my academic knowledge with the experience of my patients. To review the free courses please click here.